How often do you clean your makeup brushes?
I tend to clean mine a lot compared to how often a lot of people I know wash theirs. But I also know of some folks who clean their brushes even more than I do.
There are dozens upon dozens of different ways to clean your makeup brushes. Just do a quick search on Google or YouTube and you'll come up with hundreds of results, and most likely they're all going to be different. Everyone has their own way to clean their brushes. I've tried tons of different methods, and it took me quite a while to find a way that works for me. This is just how I clean my brushes - does not make it right, wrong, or anything like that. If you like cleaning your brushes in a different way that's totally fine - try out some different methods and find what you like best!
Regardless of how you choose to clean your brushes, it's important that you do clean them. I'm not going to get preachy here (I can get lazy about washing my brushes sometimes too) because we all probably already know why makeup brushes need to be cleaned, and we likely learned those reasons from experience. For anyone who doesn't know though, here's the short version of why cleaning your makeup brushes is important: especially with brushes that are used to apply cream/liquid products, the leftover product in the bristles of the brushes can lead to bacteria. Continuing to use that dirty brush can lead to skin irritation/blemishes or even eye infections (for eye liner brushes) and you really don't want that! On a simpler note: colors can muddle together from leftover color/pigment in the bristles from the colors used previously. (Particularly true when using light colors after having used darker colors.)
Probably the best way to express how important it is to clean your brushes is to SHOW you rather than tell you.
Here's a before:
Though at this point I have to tell you, I don't typically let my brushes get this dirty. I knew I was going to do this post though so... I sat down one day and played with my makeup a LOT (on paper not my face, making face charts) just to dirty these babies up good for this post. The brush I'll be focusing on for this post is the first one on the left (which is a bronzer brush from Face Secrets, but I use it as a foundation brush.) The reason I chose that one as the main focus is simple: it has white tipped bristles, which means it's a lot easier to see the difference in "dirty" and "clean" on that brush. Some day I will invest in a good set of brushes with white or otherwise light-colored bristles for this very reason. I found I clean my brushes more often when I know they're supposed to be white/light colored and I can SEE just how dirty they have really become.
How I clean my brushes:
I get two drinking glasses: one for the "wash" and one for the "rinse". In the "wash" glass, I pour in a bit of distilled white vinegar. I don't measure; perhaps 1/4 cup or so. It needn't be precise. Then I fill it up with very warm water, and finally I add a little bit of dish detergent. Why vinegar? It has disinfectant properties, which will help get rid of any little germies that might have decided to make a home of your makeup brushes. Why the dish soap? (Which for the record, I use Dawn.) It cuts through oils/grease really well, so I feel like it gets rid of the residue from cream/liquid products really well. Some folks say that dish detergent is harsh and should not be used on makeup brushes. I say they use Dawn to help save/clean up sweet little animals who have been affected by oil spills so if it's gentle enough for precious furry/feathered ones, it's gentle enough for my makeup brushes. I use the stuff daily to wash dishes, a couple times a day, and it's never been harsh on my hands either for that matter. But if you are not cool with using dish detergent to clean your makeup brushes, for whatever reasons, you could also use baby shampoo, whatever your favorite shampoo is, liquid hand soap, or what you might be most comfortable with using: liquid face wash. Whatever floats your boat people, as long as it's liquid soap. I do put them in the glass in that order though: vinegar, water, soap. Reason being: putting the soap in last means that it won't suds up while adding the vinegar or water; I don't like it to be super sudsy. Personal preference. Again: do whatever you like best.
The second glass is filled with warm water, and nothing else.
*One brush at a time, I dip my brushes into the was water and swirl them around, lightly pressing the bristles against the side of the glass if necessary to help loosen makeup from the middle of the brush. Pressing the brush on the side of the glass is not usually necessary, and when it is it's only with larger face brushes, never eye shadow brushes and the like. Once the makeup has been swished off in the wash water, I give it a dip and swirl in the rinse water.
Depending on how dirty your brushes are, and how many brushes you have, you might need to get fresh wash and rinse water a couple times while cleaning your brushes. I take a good look at each brush before and after rinsing, and as soon as I feel a brush didn't really get cleaned well enough I empty the glasses and rinse them out then start over with fresh water.
* - For particularly dirty brushes, I will wet the bristles with vinegar then put a little dish detergent on the back of my hand and swirl the brush on the back of my hand. I had to do that with the Face Secrets brush for this one because I really had that brush gunked up for this post, but for my normal usage & on my usual routine for washing, that is not necessary. When the brush is it's "normal dirty" when I wash it, all the makeup comes off almost instantly in the wash water. I did want to note that this extra step was necessary though as if you don't clean your brushes often you might need a little extra "oomph" to get them really clean!
Once they're all done, I gently squeeze them dry with paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible, then reshape the bristles and lie them flat on paper towels to dry for several hours/overnight.
And of course, here's the after once they're all clean and dry:
For true emphasis, here's a side by side of the Face Secrets brush, before and after cleaning:
And because I know someone will ask: No, your brushes will NOT smell like vinegar if you use vinegar to help clean your brushes. They might still smell a bit like vinegar while they are still wet but once they have dried, they won't. If by some chance you do find that they still smell of vinegar even once fully dried, you most likely did not rinse them well enough. Try an extra rinse in cool water after the initial rinse in warm water next time.